1.3 Introduction to Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) in Functional Adult Literacy
Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) is a “new” way of conducting research involving the local communities. It was originally developed by agricultural development workers, but currently it has been adapted and adopted by almost all development workers - literacy ones inclusive. This topic covers:
• some basic tools used in PRA.
By the end of the topic, the participants should be able to:
• identify some of the tools used in conducting a PRA exercise.
c) Time: 2.30 hours.
d) Learning Aids: Stones, seeds, clear ground/floor, chalk, blackboard, leaves, newsprint, markers.
e) Procedure and Learning Points:
1. [10 min.]. Trainer leads a brainstorming session about the research techniques people use in their work and asks participants what they know about PRA. Following this he/she provides a brief overview of PRA using the information in the learning points below.
- Some research techniques include interviews, questionnaires, observations, focus group discussions and PRA.
2. [10 min.] Trainer provides an overview of the range of some tools used in PRA by writing them on blackboard or newsprint.
PRA tools used are categorised under:
• Participatory mappings such as village/local maps to show households, natural resources, etc.
3. [30 min.] Ask participants who live in the same village/parish to come together and draw a map of their village/parish. If the trainer comes from the same area, he/she can start off the process by holding the stick/chalk, then draw the boundary of the village/parish. Hand over the stick/chalk to others to participate.
- Maps can be used to show number of households in the village, social centres (schools, clinics, etc.), village/parish natural resources, etc. Let participants agree on what they want their map to be.
An example of participatory maps produced by different people to represent the same situation. Note the differences between the Men’s map and Boy’s map. Viewing the same situation differently can also occur depending on sex, age, educational level, etc.
4. [30 min.] Involve participants in drawing a calendar on the ground/floor. Ask them to draw 12 columns which represent the 12 months in a year. The months should be named 1, 2, 3, etc. or use local names for a month if it exists in a community. Let them decide what they want to analyse annually. Is it diseases occurrence? hunger? price changes of crops? rainfall? If it is rainfall for instance, start with the wettest months in the year. Agree on the symbols you are to use for quantifying amounts of rainfall (stones, seeds, etc.). More rainfall in a month means more of these symbols in that particular month than that one with less rainfall.
Complete the calendar by allowing the local people to agree amongst themselves if the calendar reveals the picture as it is in their area.
- Calendars can be easily constructed by the local people if the process is not complicated by the trainer.
5. [30 min.] Involve participants in constructing one example of a direct ranking matrix. Ask participants to choose a class of objects which is important to them (e.g. foods - matooke, millet, maize, beans, cassava). List the criteria about these foodstuffs like nutritive values, resistance to pests, easy storage, perishable, resistance to weather changes. On the top row, put the different foodstuffs apart and on the left column list the criteria. You can use different symbols to represent the criteria already listed. Next, assign a score for each foodstuff depending on the criteria listed like in the table below:-
Example of direct matrix ranking:
The best foodstuffs according to this ranking basing on the above criteria would be millet; 5 means best; 1 means worst.
- You can use such a matrix to rank local preferences for a particular item.
6. [20 min.] In groups, ask participants to describe ways of integrating PRA in FAL lessons.
7. [10 min.] Presentations by all groups.
We can use these PRA tools in literacy classes in several ways;
• the drawings themselves on the ground/floor are good exercises for a beginner in literacy classes - easing hand muscles.
f) Assessment [10 min.] Ask participants to identify problems associated with doing PRA with the illiterate.
Participants given a hand-out on PRA to read and later discuss the importance of PRA in a FAL programme.
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